By Ben Aris of bne in Moscow

Unless you live in Moscow and are in the retail business, you probably haven’t heard of Moskovsky Kreditni Bank (Credit Bank of Moscow, in English). But you may soon. A top-20 Russian bank, CBM is joining the increasingly long line of Russian companies that want to IPO on London’s stock exchange.

“We are contemplating an IPO, but have not decided on specific timing or plans,” CBM’s CEO, Vladimir Chubar, tells bne in an exclusive interview. “It depends on if the market improves, as the current valuation levels for Russian banks are not necessarily attractive. We are still growing, we have one of the lowest cost/income ratios and the return on equity of about 18-20% is one of the best in the sector. We feel like we are still quite a young bank and will wait for the right window of opportunity to open.” Read more

If Hungarian bankers – already facing another year of heavy losses – thought things could not get worse, they just have.

Only days after Karl Sevelda, chief executive of Raiffeisen Bank International, more than hinted he was prepared to withdraw from some central European countries, including Hungary, due to the unfavorable business climate, the competition office in Budapest on Wednesday announced fines on 11 commercial banks totaling Ft 9.5bn (€32m). Read more

Need a bank account?

In the last 20 years, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank, has licensed just a dozen new private sector banks. Now, the RBI has invited applications for a new round of permits and Monday was the deadline.

It’s anybody’s guess what will set the succesful applicants apart. But one thing is for sure – the government is out to improve financial inclusion. And a new index developed by Crisil, the ratings agency, uncovers the problems across India. Read more

The People’s Bank of China on Monday finally went public over the country’s liquidity squeeze.

Its first statement on the cash crunch helped ease the pressures in the money markets and bring down short-term borrowing costs. But it did nothing to reassure investors in the stock market, where the Shanghai Composite plunged 5.3 per cent, taking its losses over the last two weeks to more than 12 per cent.

That seems logical – the authorities don’t want a banking crisis. But they appear to be serious about putting the brakes on credit growth, even at the cost of slowing the economy. Read more

In March, the online magazine Cobrapost claimed it had evidence that officials at India’s three leading non-state banks were facilitating money laundering. Probes were initiated, staff were suspended and the local press was abuzz.

Now, in the second part of the sting operation, Cobrapost levelled similar allegations against 23 more financial services companies, including public sector banks and insurance companies. Many say the news is less exciting this time. But are they missing something? Read more

The Hungarian forint plunged on Tuesday to its lowest level against the euro since last June, losing over 1 per cent to 305 forint as investors took fright at the latest round of controversial policy moves from prime minister Viktor Orbán.

They don’t like the row between Budapest and the European Union over the constitution; nor György Matolcsy, the new central bank governor; nor plans to convert small companies’ fx loans into forint, using the central bank’s reserves. Expect further pressure on the currency. Read more